Bay St. Louis Theater Receives Award

You may have heard that the Bay St. Louis Little Theater is one of the recipients of a 2013 Governor’s Arts Awards. The award is in the category of “Arts In Community.” You might remember back during 2010, Malvaney reported in April and July on the Bay St. Louis Little Theater’s work on its new home, the historic Scafidi building.

Bay St. Louis Little Theater's new home the "Scafidi House" on opening night 2011.  from accessed 02-02-2013

Bay St. Louis Little Theater’s new home the “Scafidi House” on opening night 2011. from accessed 02-02-2013

The Mississippi Arts Commission webpage describes the Governor’s Arts Award:

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented annually to outstanding writers, artists, performers, craftsmen and educators who have made significant and lasting contributions through their work as well as to corporations or organizations on the basis of their dedication to arts advancement. Previous winners include B.B. King, James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Malcolm White, Mary Katharine Loyacono McCravey, the late Little Milton (Campbell), Dr. David Blackburn, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, USA International Ballet Competition, William Eggleston, Bo Diddley and Charles Burnett.

The Little Theater will be in some pretty good company. Here is what the Mississippi Arts Commission has to say about the Bay St. Louis Little Theater, their new old building, and why they are so worthy of this esteemed recognition:

The Bay Saint Louis Little Theatre was founded in 1946. The original building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but in 2008, with the assistance of a Building Fund for the Arts grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the theatre’s Board of Directors purchased the historic building that served as the location of the iconic film, This Property is Condemned.

The theatre has always served as a pillar of live entertainment in the community. Anyone is allowed the opportunity to audition to cultivate their own artistic style and presence. The theatre serves as a gathering place for experiencing the diverse heritage and culture of the quaint community of Bay Saint Louis. In addition to theatrical plays, the theatre offers an array of interactive events, including children’s day camps, dinner theatres, backyard movie nights, Juke Joint Jam Dance Sessions in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and the annual “Stella Blues and BBQ Festival.” Through the performing arts, the Bay Saint Louis Little Theatre provides a template for cultural enrichment to the citizens of Bay Saint Louis, Hancock County, and the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. The theatre played a major role in the healing process after the storm and helped Bay Saint Louis to become a better, more vibrant community. Nominated by Bay Saint Louis Mayor, Les Fillingame

Looking at the condition of the 1916 Scafidi building after Katrina it is impressive that after losing their home to Katrina that the Little Theater was willing to take on such a basket case of a building. Stout financial help from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Arts Commission helped make the task easier. The building was restored to its 1966 appearance. It was in this year that the building sported its most significance appearance, decorated as the “Starr Boarding House,” a movie set for the above mentioned Natalie Wood, Robert Redford film “This Property is Condemned”. You can learn more about the Governor’s Arts Awards from the MAC website here. The 2013 Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony was held on Thursday, February 21, 2013 in the Concert Hall of Belhaven University Center for the Arts. Congratulations to the BSL Little Theater on this well deserved recognition!

Categories: Bay St. Louis, Cool Old Places, Grants, Hurricane Katrina, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Renovation Projects, Theaters

4 replies

  1. Great work! I know of a few other theatres that have been saved by community little theaters. The Arabian Theater, in Laurel, was the premier movie house in town. It opened in the twenties and is in a sort of Hollywood-Egyptian style, or Norma Desmond Lite. Very moody, with much of the finishes and furniture intact. It has been saved by the Laurel Little Theater and still packs ’em in.


    • I’m sorry I forgot to include this information in the article but the building was built as a grocery with the grocers residence upstairs. it was later used as a bottling plant. The structure had been abandoned for a long time. This latest rehab is the first time the building will be a theater. While the space is smaller than traditional theaters the group has been very inventive in making the historic space work for their needs.

      Laurel’s Arabian Theater is a great example. Even though the building lost its front facade when the attached hotel was demolished, it’s interior is still a feast for the eyes.


  2. This is a great project. Beautifully done — and such an incredible asset for the community. Well deserving of the prestigious Governor’s Award!!!!


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